Fly with Singapore Airlines to Auckland via Singapore.
From Singapore, we take our overnight flight to Auckland
We arrive in Auckland around midday and transfer by coach to the four-star Rydges Hotel for two nights, with breakfast. Well-located for all the city’s attractions, the hotel offers spacious rooms with a bath and separate shower, hairdryer, minibar, safe, ironing board, TV, air-conditioning, tea- and coffee-maker and free Wi-Fi. The hotel has an indoor pool, a lobby bar and two dining venues, one of which is a Japanese restaurant. The rest of your day is at leisure.
Today we take a cruise out from Auckland to the inner islands of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park, landing at Rangitoto Island for a walk through the lava fields and bush to its summit for spectacular views. The return launch trip is via Devonport. Rangitoto trail walk: on volcanic rock to the summit Distance: 3 miles (4.5 kilometres) return Ascent/descent: 860 feet (260 metres).
Departing Auckland, we drive to the Coromandel Peninsula and the Karangahake Gorge to follow an easy trail along the historic walkway. There is time for coffee at the station café before we continue to Wairere Falls for a walk through a beautiful and diverse range of natural scenery. Our accommodation for two nights is at the four-star Distinction Hotel, with breakfast. Karangahake Gorge Walk: at the base of the Coromandel Range, the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway follows the old railway line between Paeroa and Waihi. Distance: 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometres) Wairere Falls Walk: by the spectacular 500-foot (153-metre) high falls there are beautiful river falls and cascades, a fine grove of nīkau, pūriri and kohekohe trees, and an upper section of track takes us through lush tree ferns and totara in native forest. Distance: 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometres), return via same track.
Our full day in Rotorua is spent with a visit to Whakarewarewa Forest Park and a marvellous outing to the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, created by the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886. The walk passes such attractions as the Waimangu Cauldron – a pale-blue lake steaming at 53 degrees Celsius – Echo Crater and Cathedral Rock, before reaching the shores of Lake Rotomahana. Distance: 3 miles (4.5km) This evening, we’ll enjoy a concert and traditional Māori hangi feast.
We visit Te Puia, the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (and Thermal Reserve). A leisurely morning drive then takes us past Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake, to the Tongariro National Park, where we will stay for two nights. The park is home to three volcanic peaks: Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro. We stay for two nights, with breakfast and dinner, at the Bayview Chateau Hotel.
This beautiful national park is a walker’s paradise. Depending on local conditions and your group’s interests, we’ll offer a selection of walks such as Taranaki Falls and Tama Lakes. Taranaki Falls: this walk goes through open tussock fields and forest to Taranaki Falls, which plunge over the edge of an ancient lava flow. It’s a superb area for observing the small native birds that can be seen flitting among the beech trees in search of insects. Distance: 4 miles (6 kilometres) Ascent/descent: 150 feet (45 metres) Tama Lakes: this walk continues from Taranaki Falls to the Lower and Upper Tama Lakes, offering fine views of Mounts Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. Distance: 10 miles (16 kilometres) Ascent/descent: 1,440 feet (440 metres) Tongariro Crossing: if weather conditions are favourable, it may be possible to undertake the complete Tongariro Crossing, often described as the best one-day walk in New Zealand. Distance: 10 miles (16 kilometres) Ascent: 2,550 feet (780 metres) Descent: 3,700 feet (1,130 metres)
Today we travel to Wellington for some superb sightseeing in the capital city. We stay for one night, with breakfast, at the four-star James Cook Hotel Grand Chanchellor. We’ll take the cable car to the Kelburn lookout for outstanding views of the city and harbour. We’ll walk back through the Botanic Gardens to the harbourside to visit Te Papa, New Zealand’s excellent National Museum. There is free time for you to further explore Wellington or enjoy an optional visit to Zealandia, a wildlife sanctuary, and the Weta Cave, where you can experience the wonders of film magic from Weta blockbusters, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Departing North Island, we cross to South Island on the Interislander ferry this morning. We take Queen Charlotte’s scenic drive to Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand. En route we stop for a wine tasting at a Blenheim winery before continuing to Nelson. We walk beside the Maitai River on the Centre of New Zealand walkway. Distance: 2 to 3 miles (3 to 5 kilometres) Ascent/descent: 482 feet (147 metres) We stay for two nights at the four-star Rutherford Hotel with breakfast.
Today we explore one of the world’s most beautiful coastal parks. We cruise into the heart of the National Park for a trail walk from idyllic Medlands Beach to Anchorage. Our coastal walk weaves along golden beaches, around rocky headlands and through lush subtropical forests rich in birdlife. You have a good chance of spotting penguins, seals and dolphins. There are shorter variations of this walk with different boat pick-up points. Distance: 6.6 miles (10.6 kilometres) Ascent/descent: 328 feet (100 metres)
We journey through the rugged Buller Gorge to the West Coast, stopping at the beautiful Lake Rotoiti in the heart of Nelson Lakes National Park. This afternoon we visit dramatic Cape Foulwind and take a walk in Paparoa National Park. If there’s time, we’ll walk along the Pororari River Track in Paparoa National Park. Cape Foulwind Walkway: this lovely coastal walk offers panoramic views of the coastline and mountains, a lighthouse and a chance to see a seal colony. Distance: 2 miles (3 kilometres) Pororari River Track: this route follows a spectacular limestone gorge with two main features, a river with huge rocks in deep pools, and a beautiful forest with subtle changes from subtropical to temperate. Distance: 4.3 miles (7 kilometres) Paparoa National Park: the park is a wonderful limestone landscape of fluted rock formations, natural arches and cave systems, which are still being shaped by rain and underground rivers. On this short walk, we see the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes at Dolomite Point. Distance: 1¼ miles (2 kilometres) Tonight we stay one night at the Punakaiki Resort, with breakfast and dinner.
We continue south along the coast to ‘glacier country’. We travel through the old gold mining settlements of Hokitika, Ross and Hari Hari to the small town of Franz Josef for lunch. On arrival you will experience this magnificent glacial environment with a 20-minute scenic helicopter flight, which finishes with an amazing alpine landing. The flight is dependent upon favourable weather conditions and alternative flights may be offered in Queenstown or Mount Cook. Our hotel tonight is the four-star Scenic Hotel Franz Josef, with breakfast.
We climb steeply along wild coastlines via the Haast Pass into Mount Aspiring National Park. Our first stop is at Lake Matheson, for a walk along the water’s edge through a forest of koromiko, lacewood and kahikatea, New Zealand’s tallest indigenous tree. The lake produces brilliant reflections of the Southern Alps in the early mornings. In the afternoon short stops maybe taken at Lake Paringa and Monroe Beach. Distance: 1 mile (1.6 kilometres) return. Our accommodation for the next two nights, with breakfast, is the Edgewater Resort in Wanaka.
Today we have a choice of easy walks in Mount Aspiring National Park, a glorious dreamland of mountains, river valleys, glaciers and alpine lakes. Waterfall Creek Track: this an easy walk along the lakefront passing the famous ‘Wanaka Tree’, a lone willow in the lake with its branches skimming the surface, and Rippon Winery and Vineyard. Distance: 3.1 miles (5 kilometres) with longer options. Mount Iron Walk: one of Wanaka’s most popular short walks which provides spectacular 360° panoramic views. Distance: 2.7 miles (4.5 kilometres) Ascent/descent: 546 feet (166 metres)
This morning we take in the finest half-day walk in New Zealand. Travelling around Glendhu Bay, we reach the trail head to Diamond Lake. A relatively easy ascent offers superb views from the summit and gives us an idea of how the ice-age glaciers carved and shaped the landscape. Distance: 5 miles (8 kilometres) Ascent/descent: 1,067 feet (500 metres) Alternatively, you may have some free time in Wanaka Village before we travel this afternoon to Queenstown, known as the Switzerland of the southern hemisphere. Your hotel for the next three nights, with breakfast is the four-star Copthorne Hotel & Resort Queenstown Lakefront.
Today you have the freedom to explore this beautiful area and enjoy many of the activities on offer, including jet-boating; lake cruising on the TSS Earnslaw vintage steamer; a 4-wheel drive excursion exploring film locations used in the Lord of the Rings trilogy; river rafting; or for the really adventurous – bungee-jumping!
Today you have another choice of beautiful walks near this scenic resort. Lake Dispute and Moke Lake: these trails offer superb views of the Wakatipu shoreline and surrounding peaks. Distance: 6 miles (9 kilometres) return Ascent/descent: 720 feet (220 metres) Bob’s Cove: located a short distance from Queenstown, Bob’s Cove is a sheltered and secluded bay. This enjoyable lakeshore walk takes us through beech forest home to a variety of wildlife. Distance: 3 miles (4.5 kilometres)
A drive south to Te Anau, our base for exploration of the Fiordland National Park. A boat takes us out across Lake Te Anau to Brod Bay, the starting point of our walk along the Kepler Track, one of the most popular walkways in New Zealand. Distance: 3.5 miles (5 kilometres) Your accommodation for two nights, with breakfast, is the four-star Distinction Hotel in Te Anau.
Today we have another spectacular drive through magnificent mountain scenery to the famous Milford Sound. A cruise on the deep waters between sheer cliffs affords wonderful views of mile-high Mitre Peak and the Bowen Falls. There is a good chance of seeing dolphins and seals. We enjoy short walks en route to Milford at Mackay Creek, Mirror Lake and Lake Gunn.
Departing Te Anau, we travel to Arrowtown, a picturesque gold-rush village. Then we continue into the legendary Mackenzie Country, a stunning region renowned for its clear starry nights, turquoise lakes, golden grasslands, snow-capped mountains and emerald valleys. Here we stay at the three-star MacKenzie Country Hotel in Twizel near Mount Cook for two nights, with breakfast.
We spend the day walking near Mount Cook, taking a simply stunning route along Hooker Valley with views to Mount Wakefield, Footstool and the south face of Mount Cook. At 12,316 feet, Mount Cook is known to the Māori as Aoraki, meaning ‘cloud piercer’, and dominates a national park home to some 20 peaks over 10,000 feet high. Hooker Valley walk: this popular route leads towards Mount Cook, crossing three swing bridges, and continues to the terminal of the Hooker Glacier. Distance: 9 miles (14 kilometres) return Ascent: 440 feet (135 metres) Shorter options are available
The final journey of our holiday takes us north, pausing at the Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo. At Tekapo, we will ascend Mount John for superb views. We cross Burke’s Pass and drive across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch, the ideal place to relax at the end of our tour. We will stay at the three-star superior Quality Hotel Elms for our last night, with breakfast.
We transfer to the airport for our flight home via Singapore.
Arrive back in the UK after an incredible once-in-a-lifetime tour.